Continuing Education

Questions & Answers for Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants

Introduction | General Information | Continuing Education Requirements | Subjects and Providers of Continuing Education | Record Keeping and Reporting | Further Information | Department-approved Providers

Introduction

Effective September 1, 2009, to renew your registration as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant, New York State Education Law requires completion of 36 contact hours of approved continuing education in each three-year renewal period. Practitioners whose first re-registration date following September 1, 2009, occurs less than three years from that date, but on or after January 1, 2010, will have to complete continuing education hours at the rate of one-half hour of acceptable formal continuing education per month for the period beginning January 1, 2010, up to the first re-registration date thereafter. Please refer to the chart below for the hours required during the initial phase-in period.

The statutes and regulations that apply to these requirements are available on this site. This document is designed to respond to frequently asked questions. It is not a substitute for reading the provisions of law, rule or regulation.


General Information

  1. Is there a difference between "licensure" and "registration"?

    Yes. In New York State, upon satisfying the eligibility requirements, a "license" is awarded. Licensure is for life unless suspended, revoked or annulled for reasons of misconduct.

    To practice as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant in New York, a licensee must be currently "registered". Registration is for a three-year period (except the first renewal after licensure that is prorated to move licensees to month of birth renewal).


Continuing Education Requirements

  1. Am I required to take continuing education?

    Yes. Every physical therapist and physical therapist assistant practicing with his/her New York license must take continuing education. As a practicing physical therapist or physical therapist assistant, you are required to complete 36 hours of approved continuing education during each three-year registration period. However, during the initial phase-in period, the number of hours necessary is pro-rated at one-half hour per month.

    Also, if you are newly licensed, you will not have to complete continuing education coursework in the first three-year registration period; and if you have been inactive or have been practicing in another jurisdiction, the coursework required is pro-rated.

  2. When will I be required to begin reporting completion of continuing education?

    Practitioners whose first re-registration date following September 1, 2009, occurs less than three years from that date, but on or after January 1, 2010, will have to complete continuing education hours at the rate of one-half hour of acceptable formal continuing education per month for the period beginning January 1, 2010, up to the first re-registration date thereafter.

    • If you are renewing the registration of your license on or after January 1, 2010, the number of hours you will be required to complete and report will vary depending on when your current registration expires. Please see the chart below in order to determine the required number of hours you need to complete prior to your registration renewal date.

      If your registration is due to be renewed on or after: You will be required to complete the following number of hours of continuing education
      1/1/10 .5
      2/1/10 1
      3/1/10 1.5
      4/1/10 2
      5/1/10 2.5
      6/1/10 3
      7/1/10 3.5
      8/1/10 4
      9/1/10 4.5
      10/1/10 5
      11/1/10 5.5
      12/1/10 6
      1/1/11 6.5
      2/1/11 7
      3/1/11 7.5
      4/1/11 8
      5/1/11 8.5
      6/1/11 9
      7/1/11 9.5
      8/1/11 10
      9/1/11 10.5
      10/1/11 11
      11/1/11 11.5
      12/1/11 12
      1/1/12 12.5
      2/1/12 13
      3/1/12 13.5
      4/1/12 14
      5/1/12 14.5
      6/1/12 15
      7/1/12 15.5
      8/1/12 16
      9/1/12 16.5
      10/1/12 36

    Licensees whose registration is due to be renewed on or after October 1, 2012, must complete 1.0 hours of continuing education for each month of the Registration Period.

  3. I just passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and received my license. Since I am in my first registration period, do I need to take continuing education courses immediately?

    You are not required to take continuing education during your initial three-year registration period.

  4. I just received my registration certificate and notice that the registration period is less than three-years. Am I required to complete a total of 36 hours of continuing education for this period?

    No, registration periods may be adjusted so that subsequent renewals will occur during a licensee's month of birth. If your registration period is less than three-years, count the number of months of the registration period to determine the number of hours required. You must complete 1 hour of continuing education for each month. For example, if your registration period is from 01/01/13 to 06/30/15, this registration period is a 30-month period; therefore, you are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education.

    If you have to reregister after January 1, 2010 and before October 1, 2012, you will be required to complete the number of hours outlined in the chart above.

  5. What is an hour of continuing education?

    An hour is one contact hour of at least 50 minutes duration; however, some courses may be given in continuing education units. One continuing education unit (CEU) equals 10 contact hours. Therefore, .1 CEU equals one contact hour, .2 CEUs equals two contact hours, and so on.

  6. If I complete more than the 36 hours required for my current registration period may I "carryover" the excess hours to my next registration period?

    No, continuing education contact hours may not be carried over to subsequent registration periods.

  7. Must I take a specific number of continuing education courses each year during my registration period?

    No. As long as you complete the required number of hours prior to the expiration date of your registration, you may take all courses in one year, if you wish.

  8. I am licensed in New York State but my registration is inactive and I have not been practicing my profession in any jurisdiction. Do I need to complete continuing education before I can reactivate my registration?

    Yes. You must complete the continuing education requirement that was in place during the registration period in which you were last registered, plus, additional hours to cover the lapse in registration. However, only continuing education taken from an approved provider and earned after September 1, 2009, may be counted.

  9. What if there are circumstances which make it impossible for me to comply?

    There are several options are available; however you must submit the Registration Remittance Addendum (PDF 56 KB) with your Registration Renewal Document before your request can be considered.

    1. Inactive Status

      A registration may be placed on inactive status if the licensee will not be practicing in New York State.

    2. Adjustment

      The Department may grant an adjustment to the requirements for reasons, which in the Department's judgment, make it impossible for the licensee to comply. An adjustment may be granted for reasons of health certified by an appropriate health care professional(s), for extended active duty with the armed forces of the United States, or for other good cause acceptable to the Department which may prevent compliance. For more information regarding an adjustment to this requirement, please contact the Office of the State Board for Physical Therapy.

    3. Conditional Registration

      A conditional registration will allow a licensee to continue working while making up the deficiencies in the continuing education requirement from the previous registration period. If granted, a conditional registration is valid for one year and cannot be renewed or extended.


Subjects and Providers of Continuing Education

  1. What courses are acceptable for continuing education?

    To be acceptable the courses must be administered:

    • by an approved New York State provider and
    • in an approved subject area (see question 15 for a listing of approved subject areas)

    Also, hours may be earned by:

    1. preparing and teaching a course offered by an approved provider of continuing education, provided that the course being taught has not been presented on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
    2. preparing and teaching a course, acceptable to the Department, at a higher education institution relating to the practice of physical therapy, provided that the course has not been taught by the licensee on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
    3. making a technical presentation at a professional conference sponsored by an organization that is a provider of continuing education, provided that the presentation has not been provided on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
    4. achieving specialty certification from an entity acceptable to the Department;
    5. completing a self-study program;
    6. authoring an article published in a peer-reviewed journal or a published book; and
    7. completing and receiving a passing score on an examination approved by the Department that demonstrated the licensee's knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations of New York relating to the practice of physical therapy.

    There is no restriction as to the number of hours that can be achieved on-line or in person.

  2. How many continuing education hours can I get for each activity?

    Each approved provider determines the length of the course to be provided and then will determine the hours according to the following: The awarding of continuing education hours is based on a contact hour which is equivalent to 50 minutes of an organized learning activity. Thus, a program of two clock hours would be awarded 2.4 contact hours (120 minutes รท by 50 minutes = 2.4 contact hours). One CEU (Continuing Education Unit) equals 10 contact hours.

    Time for breaks, meals, etc. may not be included in the calculation for contact hour award.

    Other activities such as those listed in the following chart may be approved for the amount of hours indicated.

    Activity Continuing Education Credit Hours
    Successful completion of a credit-bearing course at a higher education institution
    • Must be in an approved subject area
    15 continuing education hours per course credit hour, i.e., 3 credit course = 45 continuing education hours
    Teaching a credit-bearing course in a higher education institution
    • Must be in an approved subject area
    • Must meet the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is teaching the course for the first time or is presenting new or revised material
    For every in-class contact hour, two hours of continuing education may be awarded (this includes the two-hour preparation time allowed in regulation)
    Presenting a continuing education course for an approved provider
    • Must be in an approved subject matter area
    • Must meet the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is teaching the course for the first time or is presenting new or revised material
    For every in-class contact hour, two hours of continuing education credit may be awarded (this includes the two-hour preparation time allowed in regulation)
    Authoring an article published in a peer-reviewed journal 15 continuing education hours
    Authoring a chapter in a published book 15 hours of continuing education per chapter
    Editing a multiple-author published book 15 hours of continuing education
    Professional specialty certification culminating in the passage of the certification examination; recertification 10 hours of continuing education for initial certification; 5 hours for recertification
    Supervision of a student (clinical instructor) .25 hours of continuing education for each two-week period of supervision per student, capped at 6 hours per three-year registration period
    Test of knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations of New York relating to the practice of physical therapy 2 hours of continuing education
    Clinical residency/fellowship - 12 month duration 36 hours of continuing education
    A peer-reviewed poster or platform research presentation 5 hours of continuing education
    Hours of credit assigned by provider: 50 minutes = one hour of continuing education credit
    • Includes self-study which must be provided by an approved provider
    50 minutes = one hour of continuing education
    Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
    • Effective April 1, 2011, credit will be granted only for courses that include AED instruction; certification must be given by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross
    • Courses taken prior to April 1, 2011 that are given by an approved provider will be accepted and awarded the number of hours given by that provider
    2 continuing education hours

  3. Where can I take the test of knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations of New York relating to the practice of physical therapy?

    The test is available on the Physical Therapy State Board web site and is listed under, "Test Your Knowledge of Law and Practice". To receive the two credits of continuing education you must complete the test and answer each question correctly. Once finished, you may print out the results and save that as the certification to receive the two hours of continuing education credit.

  4. Who are approved providers?

    See "Department Approved Providers".

  5. Is there any limitation on the subject matter of the coursework?

    Yes. The subject matter must contribute to your professional and clinical skills and have as its focus:

    • activities that enhance knowledge and skill in examination, evaluation, prognosis and planning, intervention, re-examination, prevention and outcomes in physical therapy;
    • clinical interventions/evidence-based models, and philosophy and principles of physical therapy;
    • patient communications, recordkeeping, and reimbursement issues;
    • general supervision and business practices;
    • pedagogical methodologies or other topics which contribute to the professional practice of physical therapy; or
    • matters relating to health care, law, and/or ethics which contribute to professional practice in physical therapy and the health, safety and/or welfare of the public.

  6. Can I study on my own rather than take a formal or self-study course?

    No. Independent study or informal group "study clubs" of physical therapists and/or physical therapist assistants that are not approved providers can not be accepted. Only formal courses or self-study courses offered by approved providers may be counted toward the continuing education requirement. Formal courses offered by approved providers assure relevant course content, effective evaluation, and record keeping by the provider.

  7. Are courses limited to a traditional "classroom setting" in which I am in the same room with the instructor?

    Self-study courses are acceptable. They are structured study, provided by an approved provider that are based on audio, audio-visual, written, on-line and other media and do not include live instruction, transmitted in person or otherwise, during which the student may communicate and interact with the instructor and other students. Examples include a televised lecture with no means of direct interaction or a web-based course that can be taken at home.

    Please note that there is no requirement or limitation on the number of courses that can be taken using self-study or live, in-person methods.

  8. Can I take all my courses on-line?

    Yes. There isn't any limit to how many courses you may take on-line through an approved provider.


Record Keeping and Reporting

  1. What records will I have to keep?

    Providers must issue a Certificate of Completion to licensees who complete courses for continuing education hours. The information on each course should be retained in your records for six years from the date of completion.

    A Certificate of Completion should include the following information:

    1. name of licensee and licensee number
    2. title of the course or program, subject area, and any identification number assigned to it by the provider
    3. number of hours completed
    4. the provider's name and any identifying number
    5. verification by the provider of your attendance
    6. the date and location of the course or activity

  2. What information must I provide the Education Department when I renew my registration?

    You will be required to attest on your Registration Renewal Document that you completed the required continuing education hours.

  3. Do I have to send my continuing education records to the Department when I reregister?

    No. However, you must retain your continuing education records for 6 years because you are required to make your continuing education records available for inspection by the Education Department upon our request. Random samples of mandatory continuing education records are audited to assure compliance with the continuing education requirement.

  4. What documentation must I provide if my continuing education records are audited?

    You must provide the Department with your records of completion for each approved continuing education course or activity when requested. In no cases will self-reporting forms be acceptable.

  5. What if the audit reveals discrepancies?

    You may be subject to disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct. Willfully making or filing a false report is unprofessional conduct, according to Section 29.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents. Penalties may include censure and reprimand, fine, and/or suspension or revocation of your license.

  6. What if I fail to complete the required number of hours but wish to continue practicing in New York?

    The Department, at its discretion, may issue you a conditional registration if you request one. The conditional registration is valid for one year only and is not renewable. To be granted a conditional registration you would have to:

    1. agree to complete the required hours of continuing education from the previous registration period during the period of conditional registration,
    2. complete the regular continuing education requirement at a rate of 1 hour per month for the one-year conditional registration period,
    3. complete and submit the Registration Remittance Addendum (PDF), and
    4. pay the fee for the conditional registration, which is equal to the amount of the registration fee ($224 for physical therapists and $103 for physical therapist assistants).

    At the end of the conditional registration period, you must submit your continuing education records to the Department, certifying that you have completed the required continuing education and pay the regular registration fee, ($224 for physical therapists and $103 for physical therapist assistants for the remaining two years of the registration period) These fees include the continuing education fee, which is currently $45.


Further Information

  1. How can I obtain more information?

    Please contact the Office of the State Board for Physical Therapy, New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions, State Education Building - 2nd Floor West Wing, 89 Washington Ave., Albany, New York, 12234, phone 518-474-3817 ext. 180, fax 518-402-5944, e-mail ptbd@mail.nysed.gov.

Last Updated: March 16, 2011